ADA and WCAG Compliance
There may be two different types of notices, if you are targeted. One type would be from an official source and should be reviewed immediately. These should be treated as a compliance matter. The other type might be from a private source, such as an individual or attorney. Is this instance you have a few options:
1) You can simple ignore the correspondence, but you may be sued. If you are sued, that does not mean you have done anything. All cases are unique, you may or may not win. However, its costly to defend or pursue litigation.
2) You can simply pay. This, however will not ensure you are not target in the future from a different entities, even if you have signed releases from the initial entity.
3) Counsel with your Attorney. A safe but also costly route. Using your attorney or one recommended by a peer is a good place to start. Ask basic questions at the initial meeting, estimate costs for representation, costs of litigation, applicable law, steps to protect your practice.
Proactive Options –
Medical and Dentals professionals should consider reviewing and meeting the WCAG 2.0 A or AA1 Guidelines (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) as documented by the this consortium. In January of 2017 the federal government moved forward with the adoption of WCAG 2.0 AA as the standard for federal agency sites, leading many in the accessibility community to believe that a full adoption of the WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards by the DOJ for websites both public and private would be forthcoming. This has not happen so far. But that does not stop attorneys from probing and initiating litigation on behalf of effected individuals.
A Few Things to Consider –
- Your company’s website is your primary communications tool and a vital part of your infrastructure. Your clients and customers — both current and potential — are coming to you from a wide range of backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. It makes good business sense to have a site that is accessible to as many people as possible to demonstrate to your users and clients that you understand their needs and want to meet them where they are in order to best serve them.
- If you work to have a fully accessible website, you will already be up to standard when the ADA compliance regulations eventually evolve — whether that’s in this administration or the next.
- Google and the government are already making asks around their expectations of accessibility as a cornerstone of website development. Google already rewards sites that check many accessibility boxes with higher rankings and the government has signaled that web accessibility standards will be required for government contractors. By building a more accessible website now, you may significantly impact your SEO and ranking potential, not to mention open the doors to possible work as a government contractor.
- Your site will also be intrinsically stronger in both design and content because you and your web team will have taken the time to think through accessibility standards — often seen as best practice guidelines in our industry — thus ensuring a more robust and user-friendly web presence for all populations.
- As long as this issue remains unclear and without set guidelines from the DOJ, companies like yours who do business on the web can expect that not bringing your site up to ADA standards could leave you open to the possibility of litigation.
Moving Forward –
So, how do you start working toward a more accessible website for your business or organization?
- Start by deploying the WAVE Chrome Extension to help you identify ways to improve on your site.
- Review and frequently refer back to WCAG 2.0 and Web AIM for regulations and best practices, as set forth by the tech community.
- Make a plan for your site that includes the mission of working towards accessibility in your next website redesign — likely in the next 1-3 years max.
- Keep compliance in mind when writing an RFP for your website and hiring vendors. Be sure to ask every web design or full-service digital marketing company you contract with about their experience building to WCAG 2.0 standards.
- Keep an eye on mobile — pay attention to your site on mobile and be sure that any updates you make to create a more engaging web presence still strives for accessibility for all.
But I Am Not a Web Developer –
That where we can assist. Understanding WCAG and building compliant websites requires planning and attention to detail. We take this seriously and understand how important this is for your firm.
Call us at 972-618-1236 or use the form below.
We will coordinate a time to review your site and create recommendations if needed, to move your site towards being ACA and WCAG friendly.